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Lexi looking to build on success of 2017

Lexi Thompson
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Lexi Thompson nearly put together a spectacular year in 2017.

With two victories and six second-place finishes, she beat out So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park in voting to win the Golf Writers Association of America’s Female Player of the Year Award.

Despite some heart-wrenching setbacks last year, she was a force on tour, maybe just a few breaks away from dominating.

Can she top that success this season?

Is this the year she ascends to Rolex world No. 1?

Stacy Lewis, the last American to hold the top world ranking, believes Thompson’s best is yet to come.

“I can’t wait to see what Lexi does,” Lewis said. “I think she is going to have a really good year. I think it was pretty amazing what she went through last year, putting everything together between what happened at the ANA, family stuff, and then that putt at the CME. It’s crazy what she went through, but I think it’s going to make her a better player and a stronger person.

“If she can almost win the Rolex Player of the Year Award with all that stuff happening, I think we are all in trouble.”

Thompson was so close to sweeping all the major awards last season. She walked away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the $1 million Race to the CME Globe prize.

If not for that controversial four-shot penalty on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration early in the year, she might have won the Rolex Annika Major Award. If not for that missed 2-foot putt at the end of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, she might also have claimed the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson will tee it up Thursday at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic looking to get off to another strong start. She was tied for the lead after 72 holes on Paradise Island before ultimately losing in a playoff. She will play the first two rounds this year with Shanshan Feng, the current Rolex world No. 1.

Thompson says she is finding fuel looking back at all the positives last year, not the disappointments.

“Last year was my best year yet, just overall, how consistent I was, and just how I struck the ball and the putts that I made under pressure,” Thompson said. “There were a lot of positives to take from it.

“It was a very memorable year. So, you can't look at the negatives with anything. You've just got to take the positives from every situation and go on.”

There’s a challenge to getting off to the same strong start this year. Before heading to the Bahamas last year, Thompson devoted herself to improving her putting and short game in the offseason. It paid huge dividends. This offseason, she had to shut her golf down for a month, to rest her ailing right hand.

Thompson said she still got in enough work to get ready for this week.

“It's not really my wrist, it's kind of like in my thumb and in this webbing area, so it's hard to tape and everything,” Thompson said. “I was just taping my wrist to take some strain off it, but it's fine. I can still play golf. It's just a little tender on some shots, mainly in my woods.”

Thompson said getting away from golf in December was important, but . . .

“It about killed me,” she said. “I was like, `What do I do with myself?’ I still worked out, and I had to be careful with my hand. I just needed to shut down because I worked extremely hard last year.”

Thompson was asked Wednesday what her goals are for 2018.

“I go into every tournament wanting to win,” she said. “That’s my all time goal every tournament I tee it up, but, obviously, being International Crown year, I want to be there representing my country. That's always my top goal for any team event. Winning a major would be nice.”